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REVIEW: Cannibal Corpse - The Wretched Spawn Metal Blade Records, 2004
9/10
Cannibal Corpse - The Wretched Spawn - cover art This album starts with a few (okay, four) just better than “by the numbers” Cannibal Corpse tunes that are still executed, nonetheless, with “Psychotic Precision” [the title of the second song]. If you think you’ve heard ’em before with the characteristic ultra-palm-muted, stop-start riffing, this feeling should not be unfamiliar to you. The drumming here is typical of Paul Mazurkiewicz’s excellence throughout the band’s now extensive back-catalog. He may be one of the canonical drummers in all of Death Metal, along with… well, let’s just credit Mr. Mazurkiewicz with being as great as he is. Steve Asheim from Deicide may play faster and Paul Sandoval from Morbid Angel may have more [triggered] kicks per capita, but Paul is the Death Metal drumming master.

The fact that Death Metal as a whole is better now than it has ever been is a singular indication to just how good this record really is as well as a testament to just how great this band is now, particularly as songwriters, even though they practically set the Death Metal benchmark years ago. I love Death and Deicide and Morbid Angel and Obituary and lots of other bands that heavily impacted the Death Metal scene, but no one, and I mean no singular band has been more significant to the Death Metal movement than Cannibal Corpse. Other than the almighty Slayer, that is, but they’re not Death Metal. Regardless, find me a Death Metal band that has not emulated or flat out copied Cannibal Corpse’s style [or Morbid Angel’s, for that matter] and I’ll show you four that have.

“You mark your skin, it gives you pleasure I take your precious art, it becomes my leather”

Back to the killer disc spinning for your reviewer’s pleasure and the above lyric [from “Decency Defied”] warning you tattooed freaks out there.... Following a frantically paced song entitled, appropriately enough, “Frantic Disembowelment” there is some real groove and great, furious leads borne out on the title track. The following track, “Cyanide Assassin,” as well as album opener “Severed Head Stoning,” were available via download on the internet for some time prior to this release and they are characteristic Cannibal Corpse songs. Nothing more, nothing less.

Track seven, lucky number seven, oh, how I doth love thee so…. Sonnet notwithstanding, this is pure Death Metal genius. “Festering in the Crypt” showcases the Corpsegrinder’s maniacal vocals almost as well as it reveals the band’s ferocious groove in a ~slow-paced song. The singular sore spot on this track is the rhyming of “moved on” with “carrion.” Way to consult that thesaurus, guys. And don’t say you didn’t, ‘cause I watched the DVD and Alex Webster showed the damn thing. Regardless, this song has the sickest groove this side of “From Skin to Liquid” or “When Death Replaces Life.”

The rest of this record is unadulterated Cannibal Corpse. The music is as pure as you would expect from these giants of the genre. The songwriting is tighter and even more varied than it has ever been. If you know this band’s music, you know what I mean. While Gore Obsessed, also with the excellent Neil Kernon at the helm, had perhaps fewer memorable tracks but no less precision or sonic force, this disc has a happy combination of groove and blistering speed. Sometimes the two are even mingled together, or is that mangled together? Surely the latter....

Whatever the case, the album comes to a close on a proverbial high note. The final three tracks are killer, particularly “Slain” which mates a frenetic riff with a mid-paced one -- with drumming to match, of course. “Bent Backwards and Broken” has Alex Webster’s signature writing style all over it, replete with subterranean bass rumblings. He actually wrote this one, three others, and the closer, “They Deserve to Die,” which ends the album much as the damned thing began, although there is a brief bass solo here.

Where would this review be without mention of guitarists Pat O’Brien and original axeman Jack Owen? These two have honed their craft to a razor’s edge. The leads that fade out the closing track [and at least one other] are indicative of only one facet of their mastery and would make any soloist not named Zakk Wylde blush with envy and admiration. Overall, their playing on this album is somewhere between inspired and reinvigorated. While the preceding album was no slouch, this one clearly outdoes it, which is no small feat.

At over 15 years in the making, Cannibal Corpse prove that there indeed is not “Nothing Left to Mutilate” [track 8] and this writer thinks they will continue their vile, bloodthirsty, hammer smashed, gore obsession for many years to come.

“Eyes tied tight forever
Mouth wired shut forever
Body parts dissever
You will see no more
Never....”

At ~42 minutes, this album can seem a bit long in the tooth, although the ‘experts’ at All Music Guide say it is “overall a pretty brief album” -- what idiots. Yes, the length of the album takes away some of the band’s momentum but it still leaves this smoldering disc with a solid 9 outta 10 rating. It is as good a starting point as any for this band’s discography if you are among the uninitiated.

The DVD that accompanies the CD is long and meandering but very cool. It makes former member Chris Barnes’ DVDs with Six Feet Under look like bad weed jokes -- which they practically are. “The Making of the Wretched Spawn” takes us to Sonic Ranch Studios in Tornillo, TX and shows sides of the band that some of you out there did not know they had. The biggest ‘surprise’ on the DVD is that Jack Owen loves country music -- he was raised on Hank Williams, Sr. and Johnny Cash. The funniest moment is the recurring “My Pocket’s Got a Hole in It” song where Owen twangs an acoustic and bemoans the fact that his weed fell through the hole in said pocket. Comedy.

The DVD is considerable in length and goes in depth into the recording of the album, as you may have suspected being the keen observers of detail that you are and noting that the title is what it is. Regardless, it’s a fun trip into what is Cannibal Corpse and it provides some insight into a band that has worked hard to be where they are currently. It only adds to this great release so get it while you can. Word on the street is that the DVD was only released with the initial pressing of this album.

written by Tony Belcher

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» Cannibal Corpse band details
Tracklist
1. Severed Head Stoning
2. Psychotic Precision
3. Decency Defiled
4. Frantic Disembowelemnt
5. The Wretched Spawn
6. Cyanide Assassin
7. Festering In The Crypts
8. Nothing Left To Mutilate
9. Blunt Force Castration
10. Rotten Body Landslide
11. Slain
12. Bent Backwards And Broken
13. They Deserve To Die

Playing time: 41.53

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